Abbotsbury Children’s Farm, Dorset review

Our rating 
3.2 out of 5 star rating 3.2
User rating
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In a nutshell

A picturesque farm park in Dorset, where children can enjoy countryside-themed activities, cuddle newborn creatures and run in the soft play area housed in a vast medieval barn. For the best value, combine it with other local attractions for a full day out
Fun for kids
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Fun for parents
2.0 out of 5 rating 2.0
Worth the money
3.0 out of 5 rating 3.0
Facilities
4.0 out of 5 rating 4.0
Family friendliness
3.0 out of 5 rating 3.0
Pros: Kids aged 2-7 years will love the interactive animals activities like cuddling guinea pigs, fun ride-on tractor race track, play barn to burn off energy, good value tickets combining other nearby attractions.
Cons: Café is quite pricey, older children (11+ years) may finish exploring before younger siblings, farm entrance ticket is expensive.

When we visited:

On a showery afternoon in May half term

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What age and family is Abbotsbury Children’s Farm best for?

Best for: Children aged from 2 to 7

Still good fun: Children aged 8-10 year olds

Avoid if: Older children (11+ years) may find the site quite small

How much does it cost:

  • Gate prices: Adults £11, children £9.50
  • Online prices: Adults £8.80, children £7.60
  • Advance Passport Tickets, including two other Abbotsbury attractions, are good value if you’re in the area for a day or two

Are there discounts or cheap tickets available for Abbotsbury Children’s Farm?

Yes, look out for special offers on Picniq, or use your Tesco Clubcard vouchers towards tickets – turn every 50p in vouchers into £1.50 to spend at Abbotsbury Children’s Farm. Discount websites Wowcher and LivingSocial have also offered great deals in the past so it’s worth doing an online search before you buy your tickets.

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Any extra charges once I’m there?

  • Pony rides cost an extra £3, which seems quite expensive if you were to add that to the full price child entrance fee
  • Car parking in the village is also an extra £3.50 per day and it is a short walk down the hill to the children’s farm
  • Beware – the gift shop is more of a toy shop with a wide range of farm-themed gifts and games for sale. You have to walk through this on your way in and out so the pester power factor is quite high
  • Take your own picnic and use that cash for a toy instead if you’re feeling indulgent

How long will we spend at Abbotsbury Children’s Farm?

We navigated the entire site in under 2 hours as it is quite compact. After that, our girls were happy to stay a lot longer because they wanted extra time in the soft play centre. My husband and I got coffees and cake from the café and settled in for the long haul while they threw themselves around the ball pit and let off steam on the bouncy castle.

What does Abbotsbury Children’s Farm have to offer for families?

Abbotsbury Children’s Farm is at the heart of a picture-postcard Dorset village. There’s plenty for preschool and primary-aged children to enjoy, such as feeding and cuddling the animals, playing on the farm-themed play equipment, and letting off steam in the soft play area.

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What are the best bits?

Our highlights were:

  • The farm animals. Our 5- and 7-year-old girls loved cuddling the rabbits and guinea pigs
  • The guinea pigs are placed in a child’s lap and there is no real time limit, so everyone feels like they have had a good turn stroking the animals. Any escapees were left to roam around the barn floor which caused much laughter among the younger children as dozens of guinea pigs and the occasional rabbit darted through chair legs
  • Goats, sheep and ponies are kept in indoor pens while the farm is open so children can reach in and stroke them. Our youngest was thrilled to meet Minky the miniature Shetland pony – he stands at just 80cm, so he’s shorter than many of the children
  • There’s a walk-in aviary filled with bright budgies flitting among the visitors which was very popular with our eldest, although I found it a bit disconcerting to have the birds whizzing so close past my head!
  • Our girls were thrilled to meet the birds of prey, even getting the chance to hold an owl
  • The enormous medieval tithe barn – 600 years old and over 80m long – is certainly more unusual than the average soft play centre. It was built by the Benedictine monks who founded a monastery on the site almost a thousand years ago, and there are information panels and storyboards dotted around the building detailing its history
  • The indoor play equipment is farm-themed, giving children the chance to milk a pretend cow and slosh around in a water play area with chutes and waterwheels

What do you need to know before you go to Abbotsbury Farm?

  • It is definitely worth buying tickets online before you get there. There’s a decent 20% off tickets bought online in advance and under 5s go free, which is a welcome reduction
  • A passport-style family ticket for all three Abbotsbury attractions (the Swannery and the Sub-Tropical Gardens) works out much better value – less than £2.50 per person per attraction when bought online. It is not time-limited so you can visit on separate days
  • Time your visit carefully as many of the animals are taken to their fields an hour before the attraction shuts to visitors. Afternoon visitors should make a beeline for the farm animals before they are put out to grass, and then spend the last hour on the various play equipment
  • Twice a day children can bottle feed the baby goats and lambs so it’s a good idea to check the timetable when you arrive if you want to do this. Our girls were so busy cuddling the guinea pigs that we missed the opportunity, but they didn’t seem to mind
  • There are handwashing stations with sinks and soap dotted around the farm for visitors to wash their hands at after touching the animals
  • Younger kids (2-7 years) will enjoy what’s on offer, but 8-10 year olds may need to burn off energy in the soft play area after seeing the animals. If you’re bringing a mixed-age group, it’s good to know that toddler siblings have a less rambunctious soft play zone aimed at under-5s only
  • If you visit on a drizzly day (like we did), you will find enough play equipment under shelters to stay dry without the need for full wet weather gear


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What to bring:

  • Spare clothes for toddlers who may be drawn to the water play area – vigorous splashing could mean a dry outfit is needed afterwards
  • An extra layer or long-sleeved top for the adults. The soft play area in the tithe barn has large open doors and although this means the children can run around and enjoy the obstacles without overheating, you might appreciate having an extra layer top hand

Was it pushchair friendly?

Much of the farm is pushchair friendly but to get closer to the animals I saw families parking buggies outside the stables or to the side of the animal pens, and then lifting little ones up for a better view. The farm is compact in size and in a two-hour visit we easily worked our way around the whole attraction – including stopping to pet the animals and have a play. So it might be easier to park your pushchair and toddle round, letting the youngest visitors set the pace.

What are the food and drink facilities like at Abbotsbury Children’s Farm?

There is only one café , but the site is small enough that it’s only a short walk from wherever you may be. We enjoyed our coffee pick-me-up and homemade cake (baked offsite at the nearby Swannery). The food prices are what you’d expect for a venue with a captive audience – a little overpriced at £5 for a child’s portion of soup and £7.50 for a fish finger sandwich, for example. I’d say the café is fine for a snack but I wouldn’t make it my lunch destination.

Can you take a picnic instead?

Yes, you can take a picnic to the farm if you want to keep costs down. Or if you head into Abbotsbury village, you’ll find several tearooms and cafes among the stone built cottages and thatched houses.

What are the toilets like?

There are plenty of loos, but because the farm is built in and around the medieval barn and the ancient ruined monastery they are situated before the entrance. This means once you are inside you’re directed past the busy gift shop to get back to them. It’s best to pop to the loo before you go in if you can!

How well does it cater for disabled visitors?

  • Parts of the farm are wheelchair accessible, but there are also sections of grass and bark chippings which would be more difficult to navigate
  • The play equipment is mostly geared towards able-bodied children
  • Disabled parking is available at the entrance gate
  • For more information visit the website’s disabled access section

Opening dates and times:

Abbotsbury Children’s Farm is open every day from 10am to 5pm until 28 October

Best time to visit:

The busiest times are Tuesday-Thursday between 12pm-2pm, and all day on Sunday. For a quieter visit, try weekdays after 2pm

How to get to Abbotsbury Children’s Farm:

Abbotsbury Children’s Farm is located in the Dorset village of Abbotsbury

  • The farm is best visited by car – its postcode is DT3 4JJ
  • Head straight for the village car park as if you follow the brown signs for the farm you will have to do a U turn in the wide entrance way and head back to the car park anyway, unless you are parking in the disabled bays
  • There is a short footpath away from the road leading directly from the car park to the farm
  • The regular X53 bus service runs through Abbotsbury

Do you have to pay for parking at Abbotsbury Children’s Farm?

Car parking in the village is £3.50 per day, but free parking is available at the nearby Swannery

Worth a long car journey?

This is a great option if you’re in the area on holiday, or if you’re local and need a soft play option for a wet day. It’s better value and will make a whole day’s outing if you combine it with the other Abbotsbury sites – the Swannery and the Sub-Tropical Gardens nearby.

Which hotels or holiday accommodation are near Abbotsbury Children’s Farm?

Abbotsbury Children’s Farm is in the centre of the historic village of Abbotsbury. Being part of the beautiful Dorset Jurassic Coast, there are plenty of places to stay for a holiday or short break. Options include:

Nearby attractions for a longer day out:

The Swannery, Subtropical Gardens and Children’s Farm are all located within a mile of each other around Abbotsbury village, and you can visit all three with a special Passport Ticket.

MFM verdict:

Our two girls are aged 5 and 7, and they seemed an ideal age to get the most out of the farm. They really enjoyed cuddling and feeding the animals.

I would strongly recommend combining your visit with a trip to the other two attractions to get value for money on your ticket. The Swannery is a very short drive from the farm and offers visitors the chance to walk amongst a vast colony of nesting swans. Cygnets and their protective parents fill the pathways and streams as you walk among them and it would be easy to combine those two attractions in one day.

The Sub-Tropical Gardens are also close by with buggy-friendly paths meandering through the trees and plants. Children will love exploring the jungle, especially the 36-metre Burma rope bridge slung across a swamp.

Visit the Abbotsbury Children’s Farm website

See more reviews of Abbotsbury Children’s Farm on TripAdvisor

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Intro to me:

We took our two daughters, aged seven and five years old, on a cool weekday during May half term.